Justine returned to St Peter’s College for a brief visit in June 2014 to talk to pupils in assembly about using the opportunities given to them at school here in Gore as a springboard into the wider world.
Afterwards, Justine reflected on her own schooldays and growing up in Gore.
Home life was on the family farm, where everyone was expected to muck in. The sixth of eight siblings, she acknowledges that she was an academic child who enjoyed her school days at SPC. Keen on sport too, she played netball and volleyball and particularly enjoyed touch rugby. Learning the art of public speaking and performing was very much part of school life, with everyone expected to participate in Eisteddfods. Debating in the Bishop’s Shield competitions honed these skills and gave confidence in dealing with people from all walks of life in her future career.
When she left school, Justine took a course in physiotherapy at Auckland Institute of Technology, but after the first year changed direction and decided to do law and psychology at Canterbury. After completing a double degree, she went travelling for eighteen months, working in America and Ireland before returning to work in Christchurch and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 2004.
In 2005, she continued her travels, moving to the UK. While living and working in Bristol, she met her future husband, Ben, also a lawyer. There she started working for a large bank, providing legal advice for consumer products. The next few years saw a move to London and the first of her children; followed by a return to New Zealand, a second child and three years working in Auckland. Staying in banking, she has continued to advise on changes to consumer laws. Achieving the best outcomes for both companies and consumers has been challenging both on an intellectual and a people level.
The family have now returned to the UK where Justine will be working as a full time corporate lawyer; juggling family needs with a steady progression up the seniority ladder. She is making the most of the great start that she was given, both at school in Gore and back home on the family farm.